Miami Dolphins Day 3 NFL Draft Primer
The Miami Dolphins have been able to add two potential instant contributors through the first three rounds of the 2014 NFL draft, selecting Tennessee offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James at No. 19 overall and LSU wide receiver Jarvis Landry at No. 63 overall. The team also took North Dakota State guard Billy Turner with the 67th overall pick.
With three rounds in the books, the Dolphins still have five selections left on Day 3, one in each respective round—except the fifth round, during which they have two picks.
We’ll recap the first two days and then take a look at what Miami still needs to accomplish on the final day of the draft.
Don't forget to leave your thoughts regarding how the Dolphins have fared thus far in the comments section below.
All combine results and height/weight information courtesy of NFL.com's results tracker.
Day 2 Recap & Analysis
On the clock at pick No. 50, Miami traded back to the 57th overall pick and gained an extra fourth-rounder (No. 125 overall) from the San Diego Chargers.
As the Dolphins were on the clock at No. 57, they traded back once more, this time to No. 63 overall, and gained a fifth-rounder (No. 171 overall) in the process.
With the 63rd pick, the Dolphins selected Landry, which was a solid pick for a team that needed to find a tough, competitive wide receiver. I wrote a piece on Friday night discussing the reasons why Landry is a very good fit for the team.
After that selection, the Dolphins chose to move up from their next selection by sending the 81st overall pick with their original fourth-round pick (No. 116) to a familiar trade partner, the Oakland Raiders. With the newly acquired 67th overall pick, the Dolphins selected Turner to help protect Ryan Tannehill. I also wrote another piece on Friday night regarding Turner's fit with the team.
Updated Needs for Miami Dolphins
After the Dolphins selected James in the first round, the biggest team need was filled. The right tackle position has been in flux for the better part of the last decade, and James should become a solid bookend tackle across from new left tackle Branden Albert.
Day 2 presented an opportunity to add impact players, and Miami delivered by selecting Landry in the second round and Turner in the third round.
Even after these three selections, however, Miami still has to improve the depth of its roster at the following positions:
According Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post, the Dolphins only worked out two inside linebackers before the draft, but it is hard to imagine the team not adding depth here at some point on Day 3.
Incumbent starter Dannell Ellerbe is best suited as a weak-side linebacker, but he cannot make the transition over to that role without a suitable replacement behind him on the inside. The inside linebacker depth in this class is weak, but a few remaining players could viable options at this point.
Whether it is a safety who can backup Louis Delmas and Reshad Jones or a cornerback who can compete with 2013 draft picks Jamar Taylor and Will Davis, Miami should be looking to add one more talented defender in the secondary.
A lot of talent is still available at both positions, and Miami could land a steal on Day 3.
All of the top tight ends have been picked, so the value of taking a tight end early on Day 3 is low. But with young tight ends Dion Sims and Michael Egnew struggling last season, Miami should take a flyer on at least one tight end at some point. Egnew is surely heading into a make-or-break season, and Charles Clay isn’t a true tight end, so the need for more depth here is undeniable.
There isn’t an immediate need for a defensive tackle, but Miami has one of the best defensive line coaches in the entire NFL in Kacy Rodgers, so they should add a young developmental player for him to work with.
Also, Randy Starks is only getting older, and Jared Odrick is in a contract year, so this may be a great time to add some late-round value at the position.
Although not a pressing need, the team’s top-two backups to incumbent starter Ryan Tannehill—Matt Moore and Jordan Rodgers—are both on one-year deals. Moore, specifically, is a player that must be replaced in a short amount of time because of his $5.5 million salary-cap hit:
Matt Moore's cap hit in 2014 is more than Branden Albert's, Brent Grimes, Randy Starks, Tannehill, Pouncey, Reshad Jones...makes sense #not— Cover32 Dolphins (@cover32_MIA) April 29, 2014
Pat Devlin, a former practice squad player, hasn’t shown any reason that he should be kept on the roster, so he also could be fighting for his job this summer. By selecting a developmental quarterback with upside, Miami can have insurance in case Tannehill gets injured.
Top Potential Day 3 Targets
Round 4 (Pick No. 125)
Jaylen Watkins, CB, Florida
One of the top cornerbacks available, Watkins would fit tremendously into Miami’s zone-based defensive scheme. He’s a great athlete and likely wouldn’t mind facing brother Sammy Watkins, who is now a Buffalo Bill, twice a year.
Avery Williamson, ILB, Kentucky
One of the best linebackers in the class, Williamson can challenge the current Dolphins starters at the position or simply provide depth if he doesn’t prove to be better. Upside and scheme fit will be crucial to his success at the next level, but Miami would suit him well.
Devonta Freeman, RB, Florida State
Easily the best running back available heading into Day 3, Freeman would bring great pass-blocking ability and quickness to the table. With Knowshon Moreno on a one-year deal, Freeman would be a great selection.
David Fales, QB, San Jose State
At some point, Miami needs to take a quarterback. Fales would challenge for Matt Moore’s backup job right away.
Round 5 (Picks No. 155 & 171)
Zach Kerr, DL, Delaware
Kerr can play as a nose tackle or a 3-technique, and he could earn snaps as he spells Miami’s starters. His combination of quickness and size (6'1", 326 lbs) should be enticing to defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle.
At 6’3”, Dowling is a great physical specimen that has extremely high upside. If Miami isn’t sold on mirror safeties, Dowling can challenge for a starting job in 2015.
Keith Wenning, QB, Ball State
Another late-round quarterback, Wenning is a solid, all-around signal-caller that can occasionally spot start if need be.
Round 6 (Pick No. 190)
A great scheme fit, Richardson made a predraft visit to Miami. He would bring size (6'0", 194 lbs) and versatility to the secondary.
Carlos Fields Jr., ILB, Winston-Salem State
My favorite sleeper, Fields has a terrific blend of athleticism and instincts. He’s from a tiny school, but he has major talent.
Darrin Reaves, RB, UAB
A surprise early entry, Reaves has great physical tools that just need refinement. He could challenge Daniel Thomas for the last roster spot as a running back.
Round 7 (Pick No. 234)
Terrence Fede, DE, Marist
An analytics darling, Fede has tremendous size (6'3", 276 lbs) and quickness. He’s the perfect late-round flyer that could become a contributor in time.
Marquis Flowers, OLB, Arizona State
A major contributor in college, Flowers doesn’t have a true position, but he can play in nickel packages.
Keon Lyn, CB, Syracuse
Another analytics favorite, Lyn is a draft-and-stash player who will take time to refine.
What Are the Experts Saying?
As projected by Bleacher Report's own draft expert Matt Miller's mock draft:
Fourth-round pick: Dexter McDougle, CB, Maryland
McDougle was selected with the 80th overall pick by the New York Jets, so as much as this would have been a good option, he is unavailable.
Fifth-round pick: Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
Carey had an order of protection served against him in January of 2013, stemming from an incident involving his girlfriend. While charges have seen been dropped, the incident makes it highly unlikely that Miami would be interested in his services. They've primarily drafted leaders and captains in this draft thus far.
Sixth-round pick: Joe Don Duncan, TE, Dixie State
Duncan is one of the few tight ends left with any upside, so this pick makes a lot of sense.
Seventh-round pick: Tevin Reese, WR, Baylor
Reese has the ability to return kicks, but Miami doesn't need another undersized (5'10", 163 lbs) receiver with poor hands. This would be a head-scratching decision.
As projected by Fox Sports' Peter Schrager's mock draft:
Fourth-round pick: Devin Street, WR, Pittsburgh
Miami could use a big receiver like Street, but Landry is a much better overall player. It would be surprising to see another wide receiver drafted.
Fifth-round pick: Charles Sims, RB, West Virginia
Sims is no longer on the board, as he was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in third round (No. 69 overall).
Sixth-round pick: Devekeyan Lattimore, LB, South Florida
The athletic linebacker out of USF would make a lot of sense. He's a developmental player without great size (6'0", 237 lbs), but Miami needs to build depth at the position.
Seventh-round pick: Alfred Blue, RB, LSU
After recovering from a major knee-injury, he never was more than a backup at LSU, but he has good physical traits and some upside as a late-round pick.
Four Predictions for Day 3
The Dolphins Will Draft a Quarterback
With Pat Devlin and Matt Moore being the top backup options to Ryan Tannehill, Miami will invest in a quarterback at some point on Day 3. They will need to decide between taking an athlete they can mold, like Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas or Wyoming’s Brett Smith, or a more prototypical signal-caller like San Jose State’s David Fales.
Defense Will Be Addressed With One of the First Two Picks
There is simply too much remaining talent on the defensive side of the ball to not load up. The team's biggest needs have been filled, so now it is time for value and upside selections.
Miami Will Trade Up
The top of Round 4 has impact players available, so Miami will move up for either a running back or a cornerback. Both positions could be upgraded for the long term, and with an extra pick to be used, they Dolphins will take advantage of a team wanting to move down.
The Offensive Line is Set
With James and Turner now in the fold, Miami is set on the offensive line; that sounds great to finally say. Well played, Hickey.
Updated Dolphins Mock Draft
Round 4 (Pick No. 125): Devonta Freeman, RB, Florida State
If Freeman falls to Miami, he would be an absolute steal. Freeman is a solid overall back, with good pass-blocking ability and a good blend of speed, quickness and vision. He could compete for the starting job in 2015.
Round 5 (Pick No. 155): Keith Wenning, QB, Ball State
Wenning instantly adds talent to the backup quarterback position. He could come in tomorrow and be a better player than Pat Devlin, and he is much more cost efficient than Matt Moore.
Round 5 (Pick No. 171): Brandon Dixon, CB, Northwest Missouri State
A deep sleeper at cornerback, Dixon is a terrific athlete with good speed, size (5'11", 203 lbs) and ball skills. Dixon can develop into a quality starter if he's given the chance.
Round 6 (Pick No. 190): Carlos Fields Jr, ILB, Winston-Salem State
With the lack of depth at the position, both on the roster and in the draft class, Miami will have to dig deep to find a diamond in the rough. Fields is absolutely a diamond worth investing in.
Round 7 (Pick No. 234): Terrence Fede, DE, Marist
Miami grabs their favorite project to develop for a few seasons. He's got immense potential based off his size (6'3", 276 lbs), so the risk here is well worth the potential reward.
Ian Wharton covers the NFL draft for Bleacher Report, specifically focusing on defensive backs. He also covers the Miami Dolphins for DraftMecca.com and FinDepth.com. You can follow and interact with Ian on Twitter: @NFLFilmStudy.